Showing posts from April, 2011

Post 5.4 - Soul

A Facets Reader asks:
Do animals have a soul?Short answer #1: I don't know if I have a soul to know if animals do.

Short answer #2: Some Christian dogma states that only humans have souls.

Short answer #3: I had a childhood caregiver who believed her dog was the reincarnation of Julius Caesar.

So. Um. Yeah.

Putting all of that aside, we need a working definition of what a 'soul' is in order to discuss this in any meaningful way.

So here's the definition supplied by

soul [sohl]


theprincipleoflife,feeling,thought,andactioninhumans,regardedasadistinctentityseparatefromthebody,andcommonlyheldtobeseparableinexistencefromthebody;thespiritualpartofhumansasdistinctfromthephysicalpart.thespiritualpartofhumansregardedinitsmoralaspect,orasbelievedtosurvivedeathandbesubjecttohappinessormiseryinalifetocome:arguingtheimmortalityofthesoul.thedisembodiedspiritofadeceasedperson:Hefearedthesoulofthedeceasedwouldhaunthim.theemotionalpartofhuman nature; theseatofthefeeli…

Post 4.3 - Kitties

As I haven't had a cat in my home since I was about two years old, this week's post is by special guest blogger, David Finkelstein of Brooklyn, NY, USA. Enjoy!

The first thing you need to know about owning a cat is that you do not own the cat. The cat owns you. The cat does not adapt to living in your home and to your lifestyle. You change your lifestyle to please the cat. 
Cats don't really need you--they're much too independent--but for some reason they like to pretend that they do. When they rub up against your leg and you think it means they're being affectionate--they're not. They're making sure that you know who is in charge. That's also what they're doing when they pounce on your face in the early morning, that and to punish your for not filling their water and food bowls or cleaning their littler box. If you put out fresh clothes to wear or piles of laundry, you will find a cat sleeping in them before too long. And when you complain a…

Post 3.3 - Bi, Bi, Bi

A Facets Reader writes:
Food for thought... Though I consider myself to be a heterosexual man, I think that most everyone is *at least* a little bisexual. And I'm sure that 4 out of 5 psychologists would disagree with my simplistic view, but maybe some people think about/consider/fantasize/act upon those thoughts/feelings/desires more than others. But again, I may be over simplifying and there may be more to it than a lingering thought - who knows. As I've said before, human sexuality, in general, is a complicated thing.

The first in-depth, pioneering study was done by Alfred Kinsey, who released his data in 1948 and 1953 for men and women, respectively. The eponymous "Kinsey Scale" is an oft-used descriptor of sexuality, as it clearly illustrates that human sexuality is a continuum.

This is also useful for discussing our reader's observation.

While there are Kinsey-0s (exclusively heterosexual) and Kinsey-6s (exclusively homosexual), there is a lot of variety and…

Post 5.3 - No Turns

It isn't often I get to talk about road rage or annoying drivers, mostly because I don't drive very much. So you get a bonus post this Tuesday.

I enjoy living and driving in Arizona, generally speaking. I am never in too much of a hurry going anywhere, so I really do take in the views, many of which are spectacular. I often leave for and arrive early for appointments here, just so I can enjoy the drive.

Today was not an enjoyable experience.

I have had friends make fun of me over the years because I can be speaking quite calmly and somewhat quietly with them while driving, and then somebody will piss me off - a bit flips, I yell obscenities and question their intelligence - then the bit flips back and I continue my conversation.

My mother injured her back or her hip or something, so she called me this morning and asked me to come over and help her. At about 9:25am local time - well after rush hour, really - I encountered this sign when I exited the Superstition Highway (US 60)…

Post 2.3 - Questioning


We don't have money. The government is broke. We have to cut or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, assistance for low-income and elderly citizens to heat their homes, and Public Television. In other words, several institutions that have been proven to offer often significant benefits to the American public.


We have money to continue giving subsidies to oil companies?

We have money to continue giving subsidies to agro-businesses?

We have $500,000 to hire an expensive lawyer to defend DOMA?


None of the 150 proposed bills holding BP accountable for the oil spill or to strengthen safety rules for the oil industry have been passed?

Disgusting. All of it.

Exactly how bad do things have to get before somebody does something for the everyday people of this country and not just the corporations or the bigoted ignorant to keep their votes?

Have a question or suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at

Post 1.2 - Veggie Tales

Part of the way I have tried to adjust my diet is adding significantly more vegetables. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and texture, and some of the recipes can be heavenly.

I recently made a Moroccan dish called a tagine, which was comprised completely of vegetables and fruits - parsnips, turnips, onion, carrots, apricots and prunes, plus a collection of spices. A tagine is the name of the cooking vessel, but also the name of the dish - although in my case, I prepared it using a slow cooker. At 131 calories per serving, it makes a filling, satisfying, low-calorie side dish, as well as a small meal in its own right, if you so choose. I like the recipe as written, but my mother has asked me to make it without the cayenne pepper. It takes a little time, so I told her I would make it without it the next time, but if I didn't like it, I would go back to making it the regular way - cuz it's for me. :-P

Generally speaking, though, the challenge for me has been …

Post 0.4 - Life Positive

I've received a few questions about this blog and why I am writing about the things I am. Not just in the sense of the diversity of it, but the level to which I will discuss some subjects.

As I said in my introductory post, I am hoping that this will become a place of discussion. I am content for this discussion to be one-sided until people have something to say. And the other part of this approach is that life and existence are diverse. We have a lot going on in the world, in our families, everywhere.

But what informs my opinions - my politics, my outlook, my perspectives - is positivity. Embracing life, and being an active participant - whether it's how you eat, how you vote (or encourage you to do so), how you communicate, how you interact with your world. We can have differences of opinion, but having the discussion can lead to new revelations. It's also a question of not feeling alone in the questions we're having or asking, and knowing that it is okay to have the…

Post 0.3 - Preview! Week of April 25th!

Here are the opening lines to the posts coming next week...

Monday, April 25th - Food/Cooking/Nutrition
Part of the way I have tried to adjust my diet is adding significantly more vegetables. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and texture, and some of the recipes can be heavenly.Tuesday, April 26th - Politics
So. We don't have money. The government is broke. We have to cut Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio, assistance for low-income and elderly citizens to heat their homes, and Public Television.BUT...Wednesday, April 27th - Sex & Relationships
A Facets Reader writes:"Though I consider myself to be a heterosexual man, I think that most everyone is *at least* a little bisexual. And I'm sure that 4 out of 5 psychologists would disagree with my simplistic view, but maybe some people think about/consider/fantasize/act upon those thoughts/feelings/desires more than others..."Thursday, April 28th - Life with Pets - Guest Blogger!
The first thing y…

Post 5.2 - Education Funding

This post was inspired by a rather interesting exchange that took place on Facebook this week. It began with a link to a story with the headline, Texas Teacher Pension Needs 21% Return to Keep 80% Funded Ratio. As the person who posted this link correctly pointed out, there were errors made in how this was initially set up, but that the end result was going to be layoffs for teachers and that teachers were going to be denied their pensions.

We have all seen the drama coming from Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining for unions, with specific emphasis there on teachers. It is happening in other states (with Republican governors, I might add), and worse, there are states accepting federal education monies and using these funds as an excuse to cut state-level education funding.

And now, the Republican/conservative position is that education standards and funding should be handled by the states, rather than by federal funding and standards set by Washington. The logic being that local…

Post 4.2 - Separation Anxiety

For all the great behavior my dog displays, separation anxiety is a continuing and difficult problem.

The latest incident occurred just this week.

Knowing it would be an issue for him to be alone, and because it was on the way, I took him to my mother's house on my way to a job fair. I stayed there for lunch and then headed on my way to AZDES, returning about 45 minutes later (the job fair was a bit of a joke, but that's another story).

Apparently, despite having lived with my mother for almost two years when we moved to Arizona, and despite adoring his canine playmates, he spent nearly the entire time I was gone trying to hide... ostrich-style, shoving his face between my mother and a cabinet, for example. Eventually, he decided to hide behind the couch in the family room, and flinched whenever my mother touched him.

When I returned, he was ready to go. He was panting, pacing, and bothering me to put his leash on him. He practically dragged me to the car when I was ready to l…

Post 3.2 - Three Is A Magic Number

Ah, threesomes.

For some people, this is one of the ultimate sexual fantasies. And most of these people are men. Although admittedly, among my own girlfriends, there was more than one that enjoyed the idea, also.

There are pros and cons to threesomes, of course - to any sort of group situation, really. The first and most obvious pro is that there is more to play with, should you have interest in the additional playthings available. This also leads to a con, because you may not have any interest in those additional playthings, and feel like you have to compete for what you want.

I have had positive and negative experiences myself, but as in all situations, it depends on the people involved.  When it's right and it's really working, well - I can only speak for myself, of course - but I feel like I completely disappear into the sexual energy. Every part of me feels alive and stimulated and just like I'm a live wire, with this indescribable electricity emanating from my core. …

Post 2.2 - Factual Statements

While it was all over the news last week, some of you may have still missed this. If you did, here it is.

The junior Senator from my adopted state of Arizona, Jon Kyl (R), was speaking on the floor of the Senate, trying to convince the other Senators and the American public that Planned Parenthood was a big, scary abortion machine:
"If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does."- Senator Jon Kyl, Minority Whip, R-Arizona, 8 Apr 2011Except, it's only 3%. Clearly he made some sort of rounding error.

When Kyl's office was contacted regarding his gross exaggeration, they responded thusly:
"[His] remark was not intended to be a factual statement."A number of television comedians picked up on this, most notably, Stephen Colbert, who spent the next 24 hours tweeting statements about Kyl with the tag, #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement. Things like, "Jon Kyl throws babies at the elderly."…

Post 1.1 - Cleaning the Plate

Errands again on Monday, April 18th, so posting this a few hours early on Sunday.

The dumbest things that parents do is say, "you're not leaving the table until you clean your plate." When kids are small, maybe that is important, because parents are handling the portioning and trying to get the right nutrients into the kid. But it has to end somewhere, and frequently, it doesn't.

Some of us also have the experience of being born into families where affection is shown with food. Thanksgiving  with my stepfather's Italian family was one such example. My step-grandmother would prepare some form of elaborate pasta dish - like stuffed manicotti, stuffed shells - plus an escarole (a somewhat heavy, spinach-based soup), plus the turkey, stuffing, more vegetables, and then a selection of pies, antipasto - the list goes on and on. The total gathering was never more than 10-12 people, but there was enough food to feed far more. And of course, even once you finished a certa…

Post 5.1 - Equality

I am posting this on Thursday afternoon to make room for other tasks on Friday, and because I read another annoying article that got me all fired up. Enjoy, and see you Monday with the first Food post.

Socrates (469 BC-399 BC) has been called the Father of Modern Thought. He was the teacher of Plato, who was in turn teacher to Aristotle, and is considered by some to be one of the greatest and most important philosophers of all time.Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) created masterpieces such as Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, along with researching and exploring anatomy, flight, and various types of machines.George Washington Carver (c. 1860-1943) invented peanut butter, instant coffee, and a formula for dry coffee, among other things.Sophnisba Breckenridge (1866-1948) was an early 20th Century activist, attacking issues like Women's Suffrage, African-American civil rights, labor rights, and immigration.Alan Turing (1912-1954) invented the algorithm that allowed for and led to the develo…

Post 4.1 - Children with Four Legs

I have a busy day on Thursday, so I thought I'd post this a little early. One of the errands I have is actually related to my dog, so it's sort of appropriate that everything is happening this way.

My dog is an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, and he is completely devoted to me. He also has food allergies.

I was surprised, too.

There have been commercials recently for some brands of dog food talking about "reading the ingredients", and there is something to that. But it turns out that dogs can suffer from food allergies just like humans, and I had to learn the hard way.

Before I moved, my commute was roughly one hour from home to office, which meant my dog was alone for at least 10 hours a day. He managed this well, but when his food allergies kicked in, let's just say I had a lot of cleanup when I would return home. His first vet was a very holistic, homeopathic-oriented person, so she prescribed rice, mashed potatoes, and a spoonful of Kaopectate - but he was basi…

Post 3.1 - As Easy as 1-2-3

Let me start out by saying I am not a therapist. I have no degree in psychology (although I've considered it). I am not a sexologist. I have just dated a lot and started having sex rather young, so I've seen and done a lot. Everything I say here and going forward in the form of giving advice is my own opinion based on my own experiences and observations, and is not intended to replace other outlets you may have available to you.

Having said that, I think one of the reasons we need therapists and sexologists is that we don't really talk to our kids about how to run a relationship, and the US as a whole is sexually dysfunctional with our simultaneous recognition of our (normal) sexual obsession fighting against our Puritan forebears.

My intent is to hopefully create an atmosphere where people feel free to discuss, if anonymously, what is going on. It isn't necessarily a sort of one-size-fits-all how-to scenario, because all relationships are still different based on who …